Tag Archives: Anti-CNN

The Internet Organization of China’s New Generation of Nationalists

The website Anti-CNN was launched in 2008 by a group of young Chinese students, led by Rao Jin, who was dissatisfied with the biased and distorted reporting of China by Western media. In 2009, former CNN Beijing Bureau chief Rebecca MacKinnon had an interesting conversation with the group of young Chinese behind Anti-CNN. She said ‘it will be very interesting to see how the Anti-CNN website continues to evolve,’ and that ‘Rao Jin has plans to develop an English-language platform – with a less provocative, more friendly name – through which his community can engage in dialogue and debate with the English-speaking world.’

Indeed, Anti-CNN has evolved three years on. The website no longer exists. In its place is April Web, which also comes with an English platform. They describe themselves as carrying across ‘the vision of the youth and Chinese identity while engaging in issues of global concerns,’ and ‘a media platform to meet and encourage healthy, constructive, and progressive minds for empowerment.’

At Radio France International, commentator Kai Wen has a recent piece about the group of young people behind April Web, labelled as China’s new generation of nationalists. Below is a full translation of the article.

Translation

After the Lhasa riots on 14 March 2008, a website called ‘Anti-CNN’ appeared in China. It heavily criticized the bias of the Western media while reporting on China, and won a wide following among young people. Subsequently, on 19 April, the Chinese communities in Paris, London, Berlin and Los Angeles held mass gatherings with the theme of ‘Supporting the Beijing Olympics, Opposing Media Unfairness’. This marked the beginning of a new generation of Chinese nationalists, and ‘April Youth’ has since then became their symbol.

Three years later, many of those who joined the mass gatherings have lost their political enthusiasm and returned to normal life. But not for ‘April Youth’. Quite the contrary, it has become more organized and institutionalised thanks to the internet.

Today, Anti-CNN, which was built by Tsinghua University graduate Rao Jin no longer exists. Its successor is ‘April Web’. Rao Jin is still the core member. He is surrounded by more than twenty like-minded young people, who manage an array of media including April Web, April Space, April Media, April Youth Forum and April Miniblog. Although its Chinese brand name is now called ‘April’, it is not difficult to find the ‘AC’ logo in its forums and spaces, reminding visitors of its Anti-CNN root.

It seems that this group of young people are outliers in the current Chinese system. On surface, by being administrators of a non-official website which relies on revenues from server hostings, they do not depend on the official system. But at the same time, they fiercely defend criticisms directed at the current system, ranging from issues like US foreign policy to German media reporting practices, and from the Wangfujing ‘Jasmine’ protests to the disappearance of Ai Weiwei.

These people are not mobs. In fact, much of the content managing team belong to the post-80s generation, most with undergraduate degrees, some even with Masters, PhDs or overseas study experience in Europe and the US. At the same time, among the major authors for the website, some have deep exposures to French culture, and others are even scholars teaching in overseas universities. But their broad knowledge and the fact that they are outside the officialdom do not prevent them from becoming staunch defenders of the ruling order.

Such paradoxical mentality is perhaps partially explained by a declaration published in April Media earlier this year. The declaration, called ‘History will Remember the April Youth of 2008’, said that ‘this generation of overseas student often struggles and competes alone. As individual overseas students, the difficulties, setbacks, discrimination, repulsion and hostility they face abroad far exceed those they face at home […] As they try in vain to integrate into the core circles of mainstream societies overseas, to develop and realize their dreams, they start to miss the motherland. And the rapid and miraculous development of China presents tremendous attraction for them. The inevitable consequence is the return of the overseas student community to racial and national identity.’

Like what the author said, this generation of young people eats hamburgers, wears Nike, watches NBA and listens with iPod. Spiritually and materially, they are a globalized generation without any precedents. But deep down, they are at a lost and nervous. Such illusions amid affluence, when combined with selective amnesia under the national education, create a longing for utopia, and an argument for the legitimacy of the political system. In the above-mentioned declaration, the author quoted Mao Zedong, ‘we must be prepared to take the blind alley, and to hurry on after walking though it!’ In another declaration, a young scholar from a famous law school in Beijing said in a Maoist tone, ‘we will discuss about the world order and offer our prescriptions in passionate words […] The Western-centric knowledge system is increasingly at odds with our experience. Let’s reconstruct the world’s image and embrace a wider world.’

Such trends are not only found in these declarations, but also in many aspects of the April Web. Looking at one of its most unique and emphasized video, which features Sima Nan, Sima Pingbang, Wang Xiaodong and Kong Qingdong, you cannot but wonder how a website labelling itself as representing the ‘Youth’s Vision’ could be so similar to Utopia Village (wuyouzhixiang), a leftist and Maoist website. In just three years, the newly emerging nationalists have merged with the generation ten or even twenty years older.

The evidence of this merging could also be found in the post-80s generation’s Global Times style of reasoning. Shortly after the disappearance of Ai Weiwei, the April Web has quickly shoot a three-episode interview series, ‘Onlooking Ai Weiwei’. The respective themes are ‘Anti-Chinese Arts are Darlings of the West’, ‘If Ai Weiwei and the Likes Succeed, China will be Worse’, and ‘Bashing China and Beautifying the West are just Business as Usual’.

‘April Youth’ defends Tsinghua University in the controversies surrounding a call for Tsinghua students to be party loyalists. Tsinghua student Jiang Fangzhou, also belonging to the post-80s generation, critically likened her fellows as ‘worldly cadres without independent thinking’ in a letter to the university. She illustrated the absurd situation in China’s higher education institutions with Wei Guo, a young student aspiring to enter the Central Propaganda Department in Chen Guanzhong’s novel, The Fat Years: China, 2013. They ‘are not unconcerned, only that they willingly defend the government – like defending treasures they are going to inherit.’

As always, inheritance is where family arguments stem from. Jiang Fangzhou’s concern may be a reflection of the conspiracy theories surrounding the fight for the inheritance. And it remains to be seen whether the ‘April Youth’ in these ‘fat years’ are really a bunch of idealists.

“How the NSA Caught the Lanxiang Hackers”

One hopes that the US’s National Security Administration agents are smarter than they come off in the translated post below, but you never know! In any event, this joke has been being passed around the Chinese internet, and can be found here, among other places. Some netizens have interpreted as fact, which I discuss and dismiss in my analysis, below the translation. But, if nothing else, it sheds some light on the amount of derision the US’s hacking accusations against Lanxiang, a poorly-regarded vocational school, have been met with in China.

Translation

Actually, the American NSA agents made themselves up as Chinese netizens and asked around [about the hacking] on internet forums about military affairs: ‘who were the hackers behind Google?’ A Chinese netizen became aware of their identity, and cursed, responding, “Stupid c**t American spy, LXJX”, and after that all the replies below it were similar to that one.

[LXJX is an acronym for 楼下继续, or lou xia ji xu, i.e. “the next person (person posting next on an internet forum) continue”.]

The American department, having found a rare treasure, researched all day but couldn’t understand what LXJX meant. So they searched on Google, and the first result was Lanxiang Vocational School, so they went with that!

If you don’t believe, you can try it:

Google search for LXJX, Lanxing is the first result

Thoughts

Some netizens, including our own commenter Wrath, seem to be taking this post at face value, but it is rather obviously a joke. The lack of a link to the original thread makes it dubious enough — certainly, if it had actually happened, someone would be able to find it online. More damning, though, is the fact that “LXJX” isn’t actually a particularly common acronym on Chinese forums. It’s nowhere to be found on the rather exhaustive ChinaSMACK glossary of internet slang, and Baidu returns precious few results (5,140) for the term, most of which have to do with this joke specifically. For comparison’s sake, “LZ” (an internet slang term for 楼主, equivalent to OP in English internet slang) returns over 35 million results. But perhaps the strongest evidence against it being real is that many Chinese netizens clearly don’t get it: the first result for “LXJX” on Baidu is by a netizen who had read the joke asking what LXJX meant (and he wasn’t the only one). In fact, pretty much everything Baidu turns up for “LXJX” is a reference to the post translated above, not a usage of LXJX as actual online slang meaning “next poster, continue”.

It seems infinitely more likely that the joke was reverse-engineered. Netizens figured out what search term would lead to a #1 hit on Google.cn and designed the joke from there, settling on LXJX as it is Lanxiang’s URL address and also easily converted into a short acronym.

In short: interesting, yes. Amusing, yes. But true? Not even a little bit.

Anti-CNN Members Spam CNN Poll on Tibetan Independence

In the wake of President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, and this CNN poll indicating most Americans think Tibet should be independent, the Dalai Lama went on Larry King Live. In keeping with that show’s tradition of internet straw polling, Larry asked viewers the same question CNN asked Americans last week: Should Tibet be an independent country?

The results of this poll were quite different as the graph to the left, a screen-capture from Larry King’s site, shows. The reason for the discrepancy is quite simple: Anti-CNN forum members found the poll and rallied, racking up a fairly impressive vote count for “No”. Apparently the post also found its way onto Tianya, another more massive Chinese BBS, which helped.

As the voting went on, the numbers for “No” continued to climb as forum members commented on their progress in threads like this one. And while there was little doubt about whether Tibet should be an independent country, there was some debate about the usefulness of this tactic. Several commenters called it “boring”, but others expressed enthusiasm for this kind of democracy. One commenter wrote:

Come on, everybody, let’s jiong [囧, shock] them to death. If they dare to change the numbers then we’ll “Anti” them again.

Although no one on Anti-CNN seems particularly serious about ruining CNN online polls, one wonders if whether, especially given the already-sensitive state of relations between the Chinese and American internets after the Google hacks (and the subsequent accusations leveled at two fairly unremarkable Chinese schools, which former NYT writer Michael Anti called “the biggest joke I’ve heard so far this year”), this sort of tactic might only serve as fuel for Western fear-mongers who claim that Chinese people are going to “destroy” the internet. Lest you think such people don’t exist, check this out. Crazies will find their ammunition somewhere, of course, but one has to wonder what the Anti-CNN folks felt they gained from this.

Elsewhere in Tibet-related news, the Dalai Lama has again shown that he can run laps around the CPC elite when it comes to PR stunts. Hu Jintao may have a People’s Daily microblog (that has been closed already), but the Dalai Lama? He’s on Twitter.

That’s a great example of how Chinese internet censorship hurts its own cause in unexpected ways. As Twitter is blocked in China, Hu Jintao can’t very much set up an account to spread the government’s side of the story. So everything stays the same: the West gets to keep hearing from the Dalai Lama, the Chinese get to keep hearing from the government, and never the two shall meet…?

“A Democracy Advocate’s Training Manual”

A few days ago we published a translation of the satirical Fifty Cents Party Training Manual. In the interest of fairness and at the request of some Anti-CNN commenters, we now bring you a translation of this, a similar sendup of democracy advocates.

Translation

First item: This egg tastes great, because it is a democratic egg.
Second item: All democratic eggs taste good, there is no such thing as a bad-tasting democratic egg.
Third item: Undemocratic eggs are definitely disgusting, because they are undemocratic eggs.

A: This egg tastes great.

B: Why does it taste so good?

A: Because it is a democratic egg.

B: Democratic eggs are definitely good?

A: Of course! Please see the second item [above].

B: So how is it that the eggs of democratic India taste bad?

A: Well…you’re making a messy comparison there.

B: But India’s eggs really do taste bad.

A: I’ve already told you, please see the second item: All democratic eggs taste good, there is no such thing as a bad-tasting democratic egg. Even if it did taste bad you can’t say it tastes bad, making comparisons with India is messy, you should make comparisons with America, remember political correctness.

B: So democratic American eggs definitely taste good?

A: Of course! Because they’re democratic eggs.

B: But democratic America also has some bad tasting eggs.

A: Please refer to the second item [above].

B: I think Chinese eggs also taste good.

A: Please look at the third item [above], undemocratic eggs definitely taste disgusting, and even if they taste good you can’t say they taste good, please remember political correctness.

B: So what must Chinese eggs do to become good?

A: Become democratic.

B: And what is “democratic”?

A: Democracy is one-man-one-vote elections, separation of powers, the right to own guns, etc.

B: If there were elections, would everyone choose you to be the president or a legislator?

A: Well…hmph! I don’t have that much money, and I don’t have a grip on public opinion, so they can only choose someone else. Whoever has the most money, the most speeches, the most honors, and the fewest scandals will be elected.

B: So do you understand the person you want to elect?

A: For that all you have to do is watch the media.

B: Who is qualified to be a candidate?

A: That’s not for me to worry about, those capitalists and financial groups will pick two candidates and the public will select one of them.

B: So you’re saying you can only choose your own boss from the representative agents chosen by financial groups. How is that democracy? It’s clearly just choosing your own emperor.

A: #$#@%

B: Those three items you said are definitely correct?

A: Yes of course, I learned this in America, the media is always howling about democracy, people are always talking about democracy, and the internet is also influenced. There is no need to doubt the correctness of those three items, if anyone raises doubts about their correctness then they are anti-democracy.

B: Fuck….

Netizen Comments

[Since this one was a little shorter anyway, a few comments from netizens on Anti-CNN. There aren’t many comments on the post yet, and most of the replies are more in the way of personal conversations between forum members than direct replies to the topic, though]

The original poster [i.e. the person who wrote the dialogue] is an idiot. Just some mental ward patient jacking off?

[In response to the above commenter] As soon as you see the word “democracy” you’re always the first to rush out. In the future, be a little bit more restrained.

This kind of summarizing post should be often reposted, let everyone see clearly the face of democracy mongers!

My Thoughts

Obviously, both this and the Fifty Cents Party Member’s Training Manual are attempts at satire and thus, to some extent, attacking a straw man. Obviously, the “democracy” described in this post isn’t democracy at all, and arguing that China shouldn’t be democratic because India is a mess makes about as much sense as arguing that China shouldn’t be Communist because the Soviet Union collapsed. What both authors are satirizing (and, ironically enough, also engaged in) is the other side’s refusal to see reason and their stooping to straw-man tactics in arguments.

The difference, of course, is that the Fifty Cents Party is, by all accounts, a real thing. Where democracy advocates are perhaps just zealous and unwilling to admit democracy’s flaws, Fifty Cents Party members are literally being paid to deflect criticism (of course, not everyone accused of being in the Fifty Cents group actually is).

The whole democracy or not argument is irrelevant until both sides are willing to actually consider the truth. There are good and bad things about democracy, and both sides could stand to learn from the lessons democracy has taught us throughout history: the good and the bad. Characterizing it as either the best thing since sliced bread or a chaotic mess controlled by “the media” to give power to corporations serves no one.

Although I suppose it does serve as an opportunity for young men to vent their frustrations by cursing at strangers over the internet. And who am I to get in the way of that?

On an unrelated and narcissistic note, check out this article on China bridge blogs in the AFP (via ESWN). It talks extensively about ChinaSMACK, which both Max R. and I also write for, and also mentions ChinaGeeks (although for some reason they didn’t put a link). The author interviewed Fauna (of ChinaSMACK), who is insightful and humble as always, Kaiser Kuo, who I should probably be thanking for mentioning this site because he is awesome, and Shaun Rein, who I have called “extremely pedantic” and once suggested should be replaced in his post at Forbes by an empty beer bottle. So, all in all, a good mix!

“Without the GFW, Could China Win Western Public Opinion?”

This forum post on Anti-CNN asks the question of netizens: “Without the Great Firewall, would China be able to occupy the battlefield of the Western public discourse?” Here is a sampling of some of the responses by Chinese netizens:

NO IT CANNOT.
1) China lacks language skills. You should know most people only study foreign languages to pass tests.
2) [Chinese] lack the necessary knowledge, they can only understand the sciences [not the humanities].
3) They lack the historical common knowledge, language background, and cultural background. They’re only willing to study the sciences

It can’t, the power to take the initiative is in the hands of others.

I feel it can’t. I once read a media studies professor’s analysis of Western media [idea] dissemination strategies; I feel that we’re really behind in this aspect. As far as regular netizens are concerned, our national education doesn’t teach these kind of techniques, so [common people] probably couldn’t out debate Westerners. Most importantly, at the present the platforms for international exchange were all created by Westerners.

[In response to the above comment] It’s not a matter of being out-debated, it’s that Chinese are taught to love the nation and the Party from when they’re young; Westerners learn freedom, equality, and universal love. With totally different liquids used in the brainwashing, could there be a common language?

Definitely not, even if we had the truth, we would be drowned by all sorts of their strategic moves.

I feel it can, justice eventually defeating evil is a historical trend!

If you judge it, we haven’t even started debating it yet and we’ve already lost! So what is there to debate about? My answer is that it can’t.

It can’t. Many Chinese have already “climbed the wall”, but the information outside it is fundamentally biased towards the West, so they [the Chinese outside the GFW] naturally believe that what the West says is correct and objective. If we were to get rid of the wall, these people would join the West in a battle for public opinion.

Completely impossible. Only when our actual physical power outpaces that of the West could our values win superiority. Value systems are propped up by “hard power”, not by the gift of gab.

It can.

Definitely not. They don’t communicate in Chinese, and if we communicate with them in English we’ll definitely be no match!

At the moment, no…but we must continue and improve!

Although I haven’t made a formal count and there’s no official poll, from scanning the first few pages of comments it seems that most people agree China could not win the battle for public opinion with the West, at least not at the moment.

Netizen Thoughts on Ai Weiwei

Since we translate Ai so frequently, and since there’s been such discussion about him in the comments as of late, we thought it might be useful to offer a little perspective. For comparison, we’ll translate the some of the comments on Ai’s blog as well as some of the comments on an Anti-CNN post. Both commenters are responding to Ai’s recent essay, “All That’s Left is a Grass Mud Horse.” (Click that link if you haven’t read our translation of it already).

Knowing the (very different) demographics that populate those sites, you would think the comments would be polar opposites, but they aren’t always. In amongst the yelling is some really fascinating stuff. We’ve also translated some of the yelling.

Comments from Ai Weiwei’s blog

Well said!

What should we do so that the Grass Mud Horses can finally defeat the River Crabs?

There is not a single untrue sentence in this essay! Since people became civilized, who has ever seen this kind of government? Are these things that humans do?

Old Mr. Ai, it’s time. First, I learned that “making art” was nonsense. Then I learned that writing essays was even more useless. In this hoodlum country, “art” and “writing” are powerless to shake the system. So: the best way to deal with hoodlums is through force.
Deal with them one by one, all people must go into battle, then there will be hope for this country.

We definitely must go to Tiananmen and demand the Party reorganize into the old imperial system, this will make “managing” and “harmonizing” more convenient.
Demand the Party reorganize into the old imperial system!
Demand the Party reorganize into the old imperial system!
Demand the Party reorganize into the old imperial system!

Once we’ve got the Green Dam, even the Grass Mud Horses will be gone.

Old society accommodated Lu Xun, can’t new society accommodate an Ai Weiwei?

Strongly support!

If you don’t “ding” [support, “up”] this, then you’re anti-China.

In China we’re always confusing “anti-Party” and “anti-China”.

Correct! Correct! Grass Mud Horse Party [i.e., f*ck your mother, Party]

Comments from Anti-CNN

This Ai Weiwei really is a stupid cunt. Using this same pattern, you could totally write an essay about America. It’s just taking a bunch of negative problems and saying them all at once, try asking if there’s a perfect society [out there]! Aren’t there problems in America?
Simply impervious to reason!

I’m ashamed on behalf of Ai Weiwei.

If these are Ai Weiwei’s original words, I express my extreme anger!

We must not vacillate, must not be sluggish, must not toss and turn! We must unflinchingly push forward the reforms and opening up, unflinchingly move down the road towards socialism with Chinese characteristics, only then can we victoriously realize this great blueprint [and] outline for struggle!

“Anti-Party anti-China, loving the UK and worshipping America, betraying the people’s position”! Traitor! Running dog! Cruel and evil.

The essence of Western education and the sorrow of the Chinese people. If you’ve lost the Chinese national spirit, are you still a person?

There’s no way [to change], the world is dangerous like that. I invite Mr. Ai Weiwei to move to Pluto to construct his perfect society.

Yes, this while this person’s words are the worst sort of treason, they’re also all true.

I ask that the original poster please not post such disgusting stuff as this in the future, thanks.

That Chinese society can accommodate a person such as this proves our society has already improved. Those of you perverts flaunting how “correct” and “red” you are, do you want China to return to the days when people were punished for things they said?

[In response to the above comment] What you said makes sense. But I think our country isn’t necessarily accommodating him, he has protection — is it a Green Card or is he an American citizen?

This is an evildoer. That he exists is proof that we’re in his so-called “troubled times”, ha ha…

[In response to the above comment] Trouble times I agree with. As for calling him an evildoer, it would be better to call you a demon. There is not even a tiny bubble of the courage to resist power within you.

Of course, you have the courage to oppose America. It’s just like the old soviet joke:

American: In front of the White House, we dare to curse our President!
Soviet: In front of the Kremlin, we dare to curse your President!